Supreme Court Decision in Trump Colorado Disenfranchisement Case Almost Certainly Being Released Monday at 10 am ET (So It’s Technically Out Before Super Tuesday and Colorado Voting) and It Will Not Let Colorado Disqualify Trump

As recently as this weekend, the Supreme Court had not announced that it was going to issue opinions this week. Opinion releases usually happen when the Justices physically take the bench in Court, and the next opportunity for that which was listed on the Supreme Court website was March 15.

But the Court just changed its website to indicate that one or more opinions is going to be posted on the Supreme Court website at 10 am ET Monday morning. And the Justices won’t be taking the bench to do it.

There’s no plausible reason for this unusual break in protocol except for the potential to release the Trump Colorado disqualification case before voters vote on Super Tuesday. In fact, voters in Super Tuesday states have mostly had early voting opportunities to be voting for weeks. Tuesday is just the last day of voting. But I think the Court would like its opinion out before Colorado’s primary election day.

I certainly expect the Court is going to say that Colorado cannot disenfranchise Trump—and this would be especially true for them to issue an opinion a day before all this voting. If Trump were to be disenfranchised, the Court would not announce such a ruling the day before Super Tuesday, after many people in the jurisdiction had voted and with many more yet to vote.

The big question is not going to be if they reverse the Colorado Supreme Court but how they do so. Some ways will add some certainty and avoid chaos in the upcoming election; some may add to the chaos and I hope the Court avoids that.

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Must-read NYT: “Trump’s Allies Ramp Up Campaign Targeting Voter Rolls”

NYT:

A network of right-wing activists and allies of Donald J. Trump is quietly challenging thousands of voter registrations in critical presidential battleground states, an all-but-unnoticed effort that could have an impact in a close or contentious election.

Calling themselves election investigators, the activists have pressed local officials in Michigan, Nevada and Georgia to drop voters from the rolls en masse. They have at times targeted Democratic areas, relying on new data programs and novel legal theories to justify their push.

In one Michigan town, more than 100 voters were removed after an activist lobbied officials, citing an obscure state law from the 1950s. In the Detroit suburb of Waterford, a clerk removed 1,000 people from the rolls in response to a similar request. The ousted voters included an active-duty Air Force officer who was wrongly removed and later reinstated.

The purge in Waterford went unnoticed by state election officials until The New York Times discovered it. The Michigan secretary of state’s office has since told the clerk to reinstate the voters, saying the removals did not follow the process laid out in state and federal law, and issued a warning to the state’s 1,600 clerks.

The Michigan activists are part of an expansive web of grass-roots groups that formed after Mr. Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat in 2020. The groups have made mass voter challenges a top priority this election year, spurred on by a former Trump lawyer, Cleta Mitchell, and True the Vote, a vote-monitoring group with a long history of spreading misinformation.

Their mission, they say, is to maintain accurate voting records and remove voters who have moved to another jurisdiction. Democrats, they claim, use these “excess registrations” to stuff ballot boxes and steal elections.

The theory has no grounding in factInvestigations into voter fraud have found that it is exceedingly rare and that when it occurs, it is typically isolated or even accidental. Election officials say that there is no reason to think that the systems in place for keeping voter lists up-to-date are failing.

The bigger risk, they note, is disenfranchising voters….

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“Racial Turnout Gap Has Widened With a Weakened Voting Rights Act, Study Finds”

NYT:

When the Supreme Court knocked down a core part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. argued that some of the law’s protections against racial discrimination were no longer necessary.

He wrote that the once-troubling turnout gap between white and Black voters in areas with histories of discrimination at the polls had largely disappeared, and that “the conditions that originally justified” the civil rights law’s attention to these places, mostly in the South, no longer existed.

But a new, yearslong study by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan think tank focused on democracy and voting rights issues, suggests otherwise.

Before the decision, counties with a history of racial discrimination at the polls were required to obtain permission from the Justice Department before changing voting laws or procedures. This was known as “preclearance” under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and it was the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder that effectively killed this part of the law.

Since that decision, the gap in turnout rates between white and nonwhite voters “grew almost twice as quickly in formerly covered jurisdictions as in other parts of the country with similar demographic and socioeconomic profiles,” the Brennan study found.

The “racial turnout gap” refers to the difference in the percentage of eligible white and nonwhite voters who cast a ballot in a given election. This gap is watched closely by voting rights groups and civil rights leaders as an indication of potentially harmful laws or procedures that could have suppressive effects on communities of color.

According to the group’s report, the turnout gap between Black and white voters in those former Section 5 counties has grown by 11 percentage points since the Shelby decision, between 2012 and 2022. The study relied on nearly one billion voter files to estimate that, had the decision never occurred, the white-Black turnout gap would have nevertheless grown, but by just six percentage points.

Though that difference may appear small, the study’s authors contend that such gaps are “potentially huge” in modern politics: Since 2012, at least 62 elections for Senate, governor and president in states with Section 5 counties were decided by under five percentage points.

“Obviously, it matters from a moral standpoint, but it also matters because the margins are significant, particularly given how close elections are around the country,” said Kareem Crayton, the senior director for voting rights and representation at the Brennan Center.

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“Republicans Hatched a Secret Assault on the Voting Rights Act in Washington State”

ProPublica:

Republican Paul Graves’ work was about to come undone. In the wee hours of Nov. 15, 2021, he and his fellow Republican on Washington state’s independent redistricting commission had finally prevailed on their Democratic counterparts to agree to the maps voters would use in the upcoming election.

But then Latino voters sued the state, claiming the new legislative maps didn’t give them voting power commensurate with their population. Now, Graves worried, a federal judge was about to force the state to give Democratic-leaning Latinos more voting power.

With the balance of power in Washington up for grabs, he launched a covert attack. He consulted powerful state Republicans. He reached out to national Republicans, including the most influential conservative redistricting lawyer in the country, to discuss funding a lawsuit and get strategic advice. He conferred with a Seattle law firm. And he found a Latino congressional hopeful to act as the face of the lawsuit.

A countersuit was filed — against Graves’ own work. This suit made the opposite argument from the Latino group’s. Yes, the map that Graves and his fellow commissioners had created discriminated. But it had disadvantaged white people and other voters.

Sure enough, as Graves had foreseen, in August of last year the judge sided with the Latino plaintiffs. He determined the Yakima Valley map violated the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 civil rights law that has been the bedrock of voting discrimination cases for over half a century. Section 2 of the VRA prohibits the creation of election districts that deprive voters of color of their full rights. The judge said the maps needed to be redrawn.

Having handed Latinos a win, the judge tossed the lawsuit that Graves had helped generate as moot. Undeterred, the legal team of Benancio Garcia, the Latino congressional hopeful, appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to block the new maps until it had weighed the merits of his claim. The court declined to take the case earlier this month, and it is unclear whether lawyers will now appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Graves told ProPublica he wanted legal action that would slow down the court because he believed the plaintiffs were about to push through “a naked partisan gerrymander.”

“My singular goal, once a lawsuit was filed, was to defend the maps,” he said in a statement. His work is described in sworn depositions and court documents, including emails and other communications introduced as exhibits.

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“Colorado votes Tuesday. The Supreme Court hasn’t said if votes for Trump will count.”

USA Today:

 No Supreme Court justice seemed eager last month to kick former President Donald Trump off the ballot when they heard Trump’s challenge to the decision in Colorado that he can’t be a candidate.

Their apparent agreement on a highly charged political issue that could have divided the justices along ideological lines suggested a speedy decision on a case that had already been expedited.

Voters are also going to the polls in Maine, another state where Trump’s ballot eligibility is waiting for a ruling from the high court.

And in Illinois, which votes March 19, a judge last Wednesday relied on the same anti-insurrectionist section of the Constitution used by Colorado to declare that Trump cannot be a candidate – a decision the judge immediately put on hold until the Supreme Court acts.

Experts say they’re not surprised by the delay.

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“Why Is Trump Getting Special Treatment From the Supreme Court?”

Aziz Huq in Politico:

To understand how truly remarkable it is that the Supreme Court has agreed to consider former President Donald Trump’s demand for absolute immunity from criminal prosecution, it is necessary to have some sense of how the court treats other criminal defendants.

In that light, the court’s extraordinary and improper solicitude for Trump, the person who selected three sitting justices, is all too readily apparent. And the upshot is Trump may now succeed in delaying his federal trial for trying to overturn the 2020 election until after voters go to the polls in November.

In recent years, the Roberts Court has shown greater and greater impatience with criminal defendants’ efforts to forestall punishment — even if the outcome would be cruel, needlessly painful or simply unjustified. The effect of this new hostility to delay is most sharply felt in the death penalty context. But a general hostility to foot-dragging in criminal cases is a through line in the court’s docket.

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Federal Court Strikes Down Some, Upholds Other, Parts of Arizona Laws Requiring Proof of Citizenship to Register to Vote in State Elections and for State to Investigate Possible Noncitizen Registration

This is a complex ruling in a long-running case. (Via AZ Law). From the conclusion of the 109-page opinion: Non-US Plaintiffs may enforce § 10101 of the Civil Rights Act. Requiring individuals who register to vote using the State… Continue reading